Topic: bag ban
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September 15, 2013 at 6:58 AM
For those who truly care about the environment, it is frustrating to watch people confuse feel-good fads with real environmental solutions. The Seattle Times editorial on plastic bags is a case in point. [“Editorial: Plastic bags should be on Legislature’s agenda,” Opinion, Sept. 11.]
The Times complains that low recycling rates and environmental impact (which are not quantified) justify a ban on plastic bags. Science, however, says differently.
The UK Environment Agency found reusable and paper bags are worse for the environment than plastic bags. One cotton bag has as much climate impact as 173 plastic bags. Cotton bags also increase fertilizer runoff, leading to oceanic “dead zones” that harm marine animals.
The reason few plastic bags are recycled is because they are reused. Most plastic bags are reused as garbage bags or to pick up after pets rather than recycled. In the common environmental mantra, The Times ignores “reduce” and “reuse,” replacing them only with “recycle.”
I believe Issaquah council members knew this when they passed the ordinance. They ignored the science for the sake of political image. To honestly protect the environment, we must follow the science rather than vague assumptions and environmental fads.
Todd Myers, director of Washington Policy Center’s Center for the Environment, Seattle
September 12, 2013 at 6:29 PM
Plastic is better than alternatives
So now The Seattle Times falls for the cause-du-jour, the brave fight against plastic grocery bags. [“Editorial: Plastic bags should be on Legislature’s agenda,” Opinion, Sept. 11.]
Alas, there is no evidence that Seattle’s plastic bags are winding up in the ocean. But there is evidence presented by a study by the British government’s Environment Agency, that the alternatives to plastic bags do far more harm. This includes paper, cloth and biodegradable plastic, the latter made with cornstarch. All of them are much bigger contributors to environmental degradation than plastic, according to this study.
In the end, the urge to ban plastic bags winds up being one more bit of faux-environmentalist vanity from a city that loves to talk the talk but only rarely walks the walk.
Charles Pluckhahn, Seattle
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